Ganging up on the teachers

3rd May 2013 at 01:00

I write in response to your article "Children in gangs `resent school'" (26 April).

We have more than 65,000 children in our schools in Glasgow. The sample used in this piece of research is a group of very vulnerable young people who were experiencing difficulties engaging with school. The research team draws conclusions based on the attitudes of the young people to youth workers compared with teachers and suggests that these children, far from seeing school as a safe haven from the various problems in their lives, view it as "an authoritarian, controlling institution characterised by didactic approaches to teaching and learning and an ethos that undermined their sense of dignity and respect".

Given the sample size and the context of the young people, it is an incredible leap to move from young people's comments on how they liked the youth workers but didn't like the teachers who gave them instructions and made them follow the school rules to such emotive language. This language is the emotive language of the researchers and is an opinion not based on a statistically valid sample.

We have more than 5,000 teachers in Glasgow who work exceptionally hard in quite challenging circumstances. We have worked tirelessly to improve our approaches to learning and teaching to make them more inclusive and actively engage young people - so much so that young people are attending school more often, and as a result their attainment has increased significantly.

Maureen McKenna, executive director of education, Glasgow

Responses on the TESS website

- They "mostly viewed school as an authoritarian, controlling institution characterised by didactic approaches to teaching and learning and an ethos that undermined their sense of dignity and respect". Keep the teachers out of this. I thought the article was meant to be about children in gangs.


- Wow! Is that what (children) said? Sounds like the literacy levels of gang members are pretty high. What fantastic communication skills. I am amazed at the conclusions of this research. Young people who have complex needs, who have been abandoned by their parents and spend their free time on the streets doing whatever they want, don't like being in a place where they are told what to do and where they have to fit in with a structure which requires them to work hard at things they don't really want to do? I'm shocked.

What's their next research project? To look at whether illiterate people don't enjoy spending time at Waterstones?


Working-class children have one option, and it's not good (26 April)

- What complete tosh. This utopian past didn't exist. My grandfather left school at 13 barely able to write and went down the pits - he was working class and his future had been mapped out before he even entered the school system. The eldest child, he would work at the earliest possible opportunity to help provide for the family.

His was not an exceptional case. My father left school at 14 for pretty much the same reasons. The sky was not the limit for them. In fact, no one really cared.

Where is your evidence that the majority had a sound grasp of the basics? We have teachers now who do everything they can to help children succeed. Not all success can be measured in grades.


- Why must Scottish teachers put up with this troll? And who exactly is in this "Commission on School Reform"?


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